Duran Slocum, a student in EMU at Lancaster’s aviation program, poses for a photo after his first solo flight earlier this month. Students in the four-year aviation program begin flight school in their first semester and will eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in leadership and organizational management and several flight certifications. (Photo courtesy of Aero-Tech Services, Inc.)

First solo flights with EMU at Lancaster student-pilots: Meet Duran Slocum

Duran Slocum – a first-year student in Eastern Mennonite University’s new leadership and organizational management bachelor’s degree program with a concentration in aviation – has completed his first solo flight.

As noted below, Slocum celebrated his first solo flight the traditional way: having the back of his shirt cut. Before instructors and their students began using radios to communicate in noisy cockpits, an instructor seated behind a student needed to tug on the back of the student’s shirt to get their attention. The removal of a new pilot’s shirttail following a first solo flight shows that he or she no longer needs an instructor escort.

A resident of Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, Slocum soloed on Oct. 19. His flight instructor is Jon Glick.

He answered a few questions about his passion for flying:

Why are you interested in aviation, and when did you make the decision that this was in your future?

I have been interested in aviation since I was about seven years old. My grandfather was a pilot in the military and told me many fascinating stories. I decided this was in my future a couple of years ago after I got out of the military and wanted to try something new.

What was your first solo experience like?

My first solo was an exhilarating experience. It was a fairly calm day for wind, and I was ready to solo as it had been postponed the previous three times. It was a wild experience to be controlling the aircraft all on my own.

Did you do anything special to celebrate this big step in your career?

I brought my girlfriend, her daughter and granddaughter to share the experience with me, and we went out to lunch afterward. I also had my shirt cut and signed with the date of my solo.

Why did you choose Lancaster at EMU for your professional preparation?

It was the first available near me. It would not have been possible to continue in my education otherwise.

What have you most enjoyed about the program?

I have most enjoyed the aspect of flying. I enjoy the classes and the camaraderie we build at EMU within our aviation program.

What are your professional goals?

I would like to be a test pilot in the long term, as my grandpa had a crash during Pearl Harbor which was the aircraft’s fault. In the meantime I will work diligently to get all the necessary certificates to open up my own skydiving school, as that is what I did in the military.

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